Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Control the Meals, Control the Health

Most kids will eat sugary breakfast cereals, chips and soda all day long if you'd let them.

And husbands, well, barbecued anything comes to mind as does gallons of beer and coffee - followed by several rolls of antacid tablets.

You know they should eat better but they won't. "They're picky", you say. Just listen to yourself!

If you're in charge of the grocery shopping and the cooking then you're in charge of what the family eats.

Oh, they may complain ("Meat loaf again?") but you'll never catch them going grocery shopping or cooking. They eat what you give them so it's time to dish up a little good health. Here's how:


Don't scare them with good nutrition
The less said the better. Just put the food on the table. Serve new foods with family favorites. If they comment, just say it's something you wanted to try. What they don't know will help them.

Sneak in whole grains
Add a little wheat germ or whole wheat flour into quick breads, yeast breads, pancakes and more. Serve whole wheat or part whole wheat pasta. Add a little dry, old fashioned style oatmeal to meatloaf. Toast some whole grain bread crumbs to sprinkle over vegetables and casseroles. Serve brown rice instead of white. They'll never know the difference.

Keep dinners light
They don't need to eat a heavy meal at night then go to sleep. Soups, salads, eggs, vegetarian pasta even pancakes make delicious fare will let them (and you) sleep better. Better sleep makes everyone happier and healthier.

Serve some raw fruits and veggies daily
Salads, sprouts, lettuce and tomato on sandwiches, fresh juices, gazpacho, fresh lemon juice spritzed on cooked fish - choose whatever you like. The important thing is to have some raw fruits and vegetables each day. Raw produce provides enzymes that your body needs. Cooking and processing destroys enzymes.

Vary the foods
Get out of the meat and potatoes rut. There's a whole world of delicious eating out there!

A good rule of thumb for meals is to serve a protein, a starch and two vegetables (one yellow or orange/one green) and a fruit but you can put this model together anyway you want. Casseroles, crepes, soups, salads, pizza - have fun.

Keep healthy foods around
The world is full of junk food (and there's plenty of opportunities for them to get it) so concentrate on good foods at home.

Stock the house with healthy (or at least healthier) snacks. Baked chips, whole grain crackers, low salt pretzels, salsa, fresh veggies, nuts, cheese, fruit, pudding, yogurt - you know what's good for them. All they want is something quick to grab.

If you don't keep junk in the house, they won't be eating (or drinking) it - at home, anyway!

Update favorite recipes
Don't be afraid to experiment. Often, the amount of sugar, fat and salt a recipe calls for can be reduced.

Start by reducing 1/8 to 1/4 the amount and see if you like the results. Then go from there. Don't eliminate too much too soon or you're sure to have a disaster. Don't mention the changes to the family and they won't notice any difference.

Don't use artificial sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are poor substitutes for sugar, don't change or satisfy your cravings and are linked to lots of health problems.

Use real sugar when you want it but learn to limit the amount. Over time, tastes will naturally adjust because the taste for sugar is learned.

When appropriate, choose other sweeteners such as honey and 100% maple syrup but do tame that sugar monster.

Read labels. Choose low sugar or no sugar breakfast cereals. Pasta sauce made without sugar. Unsweetened juice, vegetables, salad dressings and more.

Serve low sugar desserts like baked apples, unfrosted cakes and home baked pies with reduced amounts of sugar.

Soda should never be served as a beverage and if you don't buy it, they won't be drinking it - at least not at home!

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